Japanese now hold world’s most powerful passport, has visa-free access to 190 nations


Japan now has the most powerful passport in the world in terms of travel freedom, according to the 2018 Henley Passport Index.

Key points:

  • Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the list
  • UAE now ranked first in the Middle East region
  • Kosovo’s EU access could be dampened by rise of far-right populism

Japanese citizens can enter without a visa or get a visa on arrival to 190 countries, overtaking Singapore, which enjoys visa-free access to 189 countries.

Germany, France and South Korea tied in third, with a group of European nations — Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden and Spain — in hot pursuit.

The United Kingdom and the United States slid down into the fifth spot with other European countries, followed by Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland and Canada in sixth position.

Australia tied for seventh with Malta and Greece.

The index ranks each passport by assessing how easy it is to enter other countries, using data from the International Air Transport Association.

Japan claimed the top spot after Myanmar granted visa-free access to its citizens earlier this month.

The war-torn nations of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the list.

The United Arab Emirates, ranked 21st, climbed 40 places in the past 10 years and is now ranked first in the Middle East region.

Kosovo, ranked 97, might see a dramatic rise in the index in future, after it met the criteria for visa liberalisation with the European Union, meaning the relatively new nation might be able to travel visa-free across the EU soon.

But that discussion will remain difficult, according to Professor Florian Trauner from the Institute for European Studies at the Free University of Brussels.

“Relaxing visa rules may be criticised as being lenient on migration control — a criticism few want to risk in a time when right-wing populist parties are on the rise,” he said.

Here’s the top 10 list, updated: 

1. Japan 190 countries
2. Singapore 189
3. Germany, South Korea, France 188
4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain 187
5. Norway United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, USA 186
6. Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, 185
7. Australia, Greece, Malta 183
8. New Zealand, Czech Republic 182
9. Iceland 181
10. Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia 180

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